10 successive away day victories for The
Gunners has broken our club record. Not content with just winning, we’ve also kept
six clean sheets on our travels. And they said our defence was the problem.
After another away win this time courtesy of Marseille, we travel back to The
Emirates to face Stoke City in the Sunday lunchtime fixture. I personally love
Sunday football. Usual Sunday’s for me consist of being hungover and watching
the football in my pants, but when Arsenal play on Sundays, hangovers don’t
even enter the equation. Anyway, enough about me in my pants, on to Stoke.
Aaron Ramsey is getting a lot of plaudits
at the moment and rightly so. But recently and especially on Twitter he is
coming under fire again by fans of ours and other teams – for being mentioned.
I don’t know what the lad has to do be to be praised for longer than three
games. He scores and tyrants are assassinated, he comes back from a broken leg
and plays out of his skin and because people mention the fact that he’s playing
really well, he’s criticized again!
This probably won’t help because it’s
another person talking about him so sorry Aaron! A number of
pundits/journalists have been questioning our depth of squad since the
beginning of the season and we are short in some areas, but if you look at
our injury table you have to think that the majority will be in the starting XI
or the bench at least. Arteta, Podolski, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Rosicky
and Diaby to come back, our depth isn’t a worry for me.
Onto Sunday and Stoke
is always a tough game. I remember last year coming home at 2:30 in the morning
a day early from Reading Festival as I’m not the biggest Foo Fighters fan and
had seen Kasabian (who were incredible) to watch a goalless draw between us at
The Britannia. All that effort for a boring 0-0. Cheers Arsenal.
however, I don’t think I’ll be bored. I
can see us keeping another clean sheet and on our current form a 3-0 victory
isn’t an outrageous prediction. I also believe that this could be a big game
for us in terms of making The Emirates a fortress; something we haven’t really
done since moving there. Seeing as our away form is doing us justice right now
it only makes sense to get our home form spot on and a comfortable victory
could go some way to helping that.
We’re playing with a lot of heart at the
moment and for the first time in a while I’ve felt like the players on the
pitch would die for the cannon; a very important asset to us as fans. I used to
worry about our midfield when we played teams like Stoke as they weren’t always
as physical as our competitors, but with Flamini in our team I feel we’ve got
more steel than we would have previously had.
While Flamini has been brought
up, I’d like to say I think he will be as important a signing for us as Özil. A
proven winner, someone who’s ‘been there, done that’ is something our squad has
been missing, while also barking orders at our players and making sure he is
heard by all – something he done superbly on his second debut for the club
against the Yids (This whole debate about whether or not they should be able to
call themselves Yids is farcical in my opinion but that’s another blog for
Previous encounters with Stoke have been
fiery since the war of words between Pulis and Wenger not to mention the
Shawcross challenge and I expect nothing less for us this weekend. Since 2009,
we’ve lost once and drawn twice over nine games, winning the remaining six and
I firmly expect us to add another win to that string of results. Stoke held
Manchester City to a 0-0 draw last week but as we all know, City aren’t playing
good football at the moment at all. After coming from one down to beat newly
promoted Crystal Palace at home, while also beating West Ham 1-0 at Upton Park
their only defeat has come against Liverpool in a contest where they had a
penalty saved in the last minute and in all truth deserved at least a point.
Stoke could throw up a few surprises, but I back our boys to do the business.
Stoke – Arsenal 0-0
Stoke – Arsenal 1-1
Arsenal – Stoke 3-1
Stoke – Arsenal 3-1
Arsenal – Stoke 1-0
Stoke – Arsenal 1-3
Arsenal – Stoke 2-0
Arsenal – Stoke 4-1
Arsenal – Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Abou
Diaby, Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla are all ruled out due to
Captain Thomas Vermaelen returned
from injury and was on the bench against Marseille in midweek. The Belgian will
have to do with a place on the bench again on Sunday with Per Mertesacker and
Laurent Koscielny starting at centre defence.
– Charlie Adam and Marc Muniesa are the
only injury concerns for Mark Hughes ahead of the match. Adam will go through a
fitness test before the clash and his participation for the match remains
signings Steven Ireland and Marko Arnautovic impressed after coming on as
substitutes against City last week and will be contention to start. Marc Wilson
has looked very assured in midfield and will start alongside Steven N’Zonzi.
Aaron Ramsey to score first and Arsenal to win 3-0 – 35/1 SKYBET
Theo Walcott to score first – 5/1 LADBROKES
Mesut Özil anytime assist – 9/4 BOYLESPORTS
A little fourfold as well – Arsenal, Liverpool, Shaktar &
Bournmouth – £5 returns £51 on BOYLESPORTS